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Take a breath: Yogis teach the Art of Living

The Art of Living studio opened this month. VICTORIA MØRCK MADSEN
The Art of Living studio opened this month. VICTORIA MØRCK MADSEN

Take a breath: Yogis teach the Art of Living

The founders of new Phnom Penh yoga studio claim to be able to reduce negative emotions through yoga, meditation and, most importantly, special breathing techniques

One of the world’s foremost yoga-based spiritual movements has opened a studio in Phnom Penh with the aim of getting locals to stop worrying and love life.

The secret, said the Indian founders, who opened their studio this month, is to breathe.

“Every emotion is connected with the breath, and the secret of letting go of your negative emotions is breathing,” said co-director Deepak Lanka, who runs The Art of Living Cambodia with his wife Parul Khurana.

Founded in India in 1982, The Art of Living holds workshops around the world in order to teach its unique blend of yoga, meditation and breathing for what it advertises as an all-encompassing treatment for emotional disarray.

“How not to be angry or nervous? Nobody teaches us,” said Khurana, adding that more than 150 students have completed its week-long “happiness program” since the two first came to the Kingdom last October.

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The Art of Living Cambodia co-directors Deepak Lanka and Parul Khurana demonstrate breathing techniques. VICTORIA MØRCK MADSEN

Lanka said The Art of Living teaches that air is a more powerful energy source than meditation, sleep or even food.

“The anxiety factor, the regret factor – all these things go away and you can live in the present,” he said of the breathing techniques taught by The Art of Living, which is registered as an NGO in Cambodia.
Globally, the organisation is an official consultant to the United Nation’s Economic and Social Council.

Its signature Sudarshan Kriya breathing technique, which a 2014 peer-reviewed article in the Journal of Affective Disorders said can lead to a “significant” improvement in anxiety and depression following an intensive 10-day training regimen, lies at the centre of the program.

Though it has roots in Hinduism, Lanka stresses that The Art of Living is not religious, citing the group’s acceptance in Islamic theocracies including Iran, Pakistan and even Saudi Arabia.

The values it teaches, said Khurana, are universal to all faiths (or lack thereof).

“You will not get tired, [others’] blame won’t affect you so much – there is so much active energy in yourself. Maybe the situations can’t change, but what can change is the inner ability to deal with them,” she said.

The Art of Living is located on the first floor of #46-48, Street 172. For information on sessions, call 010 876 132 or email deepak.lanka@artofliving.org.

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